Who do our health guardians guard?
February 22nd 2008, 13:17
Who do our health guardians and regulators care about most? Is it us - as it should be - or is it the drug companies, who invariably sponsor them, or could it be their immediate bosses, the government?
America's health guardian, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), has been accused by Congress of sitting on research that suggests large swathes of the population living around the Great Lakes suffer more health problems, such as cancer, than the standard population.
Although the Great Lakes had a big clean-up that started in the 1970s, health campaigners fear that toxins are still at a dangerous level, and are endangering populations that live around them.
The CDC study has found that children in these areas are especially at risk, and cancer cases are also higher than in other regions of the USA. The report was due to be released last July, but the CDC has said it has sat on it because it is unhappy with some of the methodology used.
Despite its shortcomings, members of Congress and academics want the report published because it reveals a situation that is of overwhelming public interest and concern.
The CDC has now said the report will be published in the spring, but nobody's holding their breath. Critics fear that parties within the Bush administration are putting pressure on the CDC to suppress the report - possibly until the beleagured president finally leaves the White House.
If this is true, should the CDC be allowing itself to be controlled by its political masters, especially if they know that children's lives are at risk?